Parental education is a necessity

Juan Casas, Courier Staff

For the majority of recorded history, prospective and new parents have learned how to be good parents from the elders of their communities.

For thousands of years, expecting mothers learned how to raise their daughters by following the example set by their mothers, grandmothers and aunts. While expecting fathers learned how to raise their sons by following the example of their fathers, grandfathers and uncles. While simultaneously, newborn babies and growing children learned that all the adult men and women were their family. Hence, they felt a sense of belonging and as if they were well protected because of the added safety of having more family to fall back on in case tragedies struck them. For example, if a mother died giving birth, then the newborn baby would be raised by their aunts, grandmothers and so on.

This system of communal parenting helped protect, develop and maintain a civilized society in an uncivilized time, a time before human rights, a time before social welfare programs and before contemporary luxuries like cars, television and the internet. Yet, ever since the industrial revolution and perhaps even farther back, communal parenting has all but disappeared. The decrease in the communal parenting model can be explained by various causes. For example, an increase in the divorce rate that has hovered at around one half of all marriages has not helped bring families together. Also, an unfortunate large portion of households are now single parent, which in turn, leaves less family members to turn to for aid. Another leading cause for the decrease of use of the communal model of parenting is what I believe to be the changing economy.

For decades if not centuries, fathers could work and maintain their family without financial support from their wives or family. Yet, in today’s economy that is now not true. In today’s economy, both parents have to work full-time to be able to maintain themselves. This then leads to their children being raised by the public education system which is underfunded, overcrowded and inadequate for the task of raising children. Therefore, you have a higher rate of teen pregnancy and with it, children being born out of wedlock which in turn adds fuel to the already blazing fire.

Children who are raised without one or both of their parents are much more likely to abuse drugs, alcohol and are more prone to a life of crime and violence. For example, a girl who is raised without her father will not know how it feels to be loved in a respectful manner by her opposite sex. While boy who is raised without a father, does not learn how to be a respectful, responsible man. In conclusion, children raised in a single parent household, or in a household where both parents work and cannot give the attention and resources that a child needs and this then in turn leads to a vicious cycle of broken homes; where children grow up unloved, neglected and overall in a standard of living that is not acceptable.

My solution to the issue that plagues contemporary society is that parental education should be brought back and well-funded and enforced. Since the Johnson era, the war on poverty ushered in a wave of reforms and financed programs that aimed at curtailing the rising poverty rate. Programs like parental education was offered and paid for by the federal government, this aimed to reduce the risk of families separating into single parent households while simultaneously providing much needed informational aid to a new generation. Since the beginning of the 21st century, these programs have all but disappeared. It is true that you can find similar programs, but they are usually expensive and not very well managed and available. So, I recommend federally funded parental educational programs, ones that have a high availability and a high success rate, with the goal of keeping families together while promoting the well-being of the children.

These programs should be a decades long system of informational forums. For example, expecting parents and new parents should be grouped together with the educational forum being aimed at assessing the needs and wants of newborn babies, the things that should be covered are how to make the formula for the babies’ milk, or how to properly breastfeed or use a breast pump. These first programs should last about three to six months and should be done during the first 12 months of the child’s life or prior to the baby’s birth. This should then greatly reduce newborn mortality rates. Next, you would have a second session of programs, aimed at helping parents understand the changing dynamics of parenting that comes with the child learning to walk, talk and change in the child’s diet.

This program should last about three to six months for children ages of 16-24 months. This stage can be called the “terrible twos”. Followed by another set of programs from the child’s age of 3 to 5 aimed at helping parents cope with their child going off to preschool and kindergarten. This stage can cover how to mentally, emotionally and physically prepare children and their parents to the drastic change of attending public education.

The programs can continue on and off until the child reaches college, maybe even after that. Overall, I am convinced that the parenting of children is not just a family issue but a communal one. That together, we as a society can create a world that is safer, and easier to maneuver. A world that is brighter, and better.